Morris William Travers – A Lifetime of Achievement
This book chronicles the remarkable life and accomplishments of Professor Morris William Travers. It covers his entire life and showcases his accomplishments as a scientist, educator, administrator, industrialist and author and encompasses: the history of his family and his early life; his work in setting up Bristol University; India and setting up the Indian Institute of Science; his work in England from 1914 to 1937; and the accomplishments and affairs of his later years.
In addition, this book shows the visionary nature and ideas of Professor Travers and his impeccable sense of honor and integrity in dealing with others. In describing this book, I feel that it is best to do so by talking about different parts of the life of Professor Travers.
The name Travers came from unknown origin though the first Travers in England may have been a chief in the Norman army and may have fought with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. There were also individuals with variations of the Travers name who settled in America and had some importance in politics of early America. In England, there were Travers family members who were bankers, members of the Royal Society and even one who was a double agent during the war against Napoleon. William Travers, Morris’s father, was a well-known doctor and one of the early practitioners of aseptic surgery while Morris’s mother Anne came from a well-to-do family that had some naval and theological importance in England. Morris (born on January 24th, 1872) and his siblings were cared for by a series of nannies, nurses and maids. Though William’s medical practice was doing well, his children lived simply. Pocket money for the children was limited though William and Anne did take their family on many happy country holidays. Morris received his early education at Ramsgate, Woking College and at Blundell’s School. While at Blundell’s, he excelled in Chemistry but had significant difficulty with Latin. He entered University College in London in 1891. It is likely that an interest in science for Morris Travers had a good deal to do with his father who always felt he had to read more about his field just to keep up and visits to the Regent Street Polytechnic and the Electrical Exhibition at the Crystal Palace. He, unlike most of his classmates, enjoyed the weekly chemistry lectures he received at Blundell’s. William’s encouragement was also important in Morris’s choosing to study at University College in London. Though he enjoyed zoology, Morris soon fell under the tutelage of Ramsay and Plimpton. He earned his B.Sc. in 1893 and began advanced study of chemistry later that same year. Though he had entertained working with Haller in France to earn his Ph.D., Morris became fascinated with the discovery of a new gas by Ramsay [helium] and began work on the properties of the new gas. He was invited by Ramsay to stay and look for the element with mass of 20. This effort led to the discovery of neon. Further work with Ramsay and Hampson on liquefying the components of air brought about the discovery of first krypton and then xenon. Morris, who had great mechanical aptitude and some ability as a draftsman, then was given the task of isolating hydrogen to separate neon from a mixture of air and helium. He built an apparatus that so allowed the isolation of liquid [and solid] hydrogen to make such a separation for neon and then began a study of its properties. He is first asked if he would be interested in being the Director of the proposed Indian institute of Science and publishes his first book “The Experimental Study of Gases”. He works on developing temperature scales by measuring the vapor pressures of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, meets his future wife Dorothy Gray and begins searching for an academic position.